Leicester City head to the Vicente Calderon with only one mindset; to defy the odds once again.
The Foxes continued their remarkable maiden journey in the Champions League by dispatching a fellow Spanish side, Sevilla, 2-0 at the King Power Stadium last month.
However, Atletico Madrid poses a whole new challenge with the chances of progressing firmly stacked against the final English representative in this year’s competition.
Los Rojiblancos certainly on paper don’t seem as formidable as they may have been in recent seasons, but they remain as defensively stubborn and have one of the best players in the world in Antoine Griezmann.
You may think Leicester fans wouldn’t be too bothered if their campaign ended in the quarter-finals but you’d be wrong.
Some City fans are desperate to get the better of Atletico after a somewhat controversial tie back in 1997 when the Foxes were denied three clear penalties and had a man sent off for two yellows- inexplicably the second for taking a free-kick too quickly! The Madrid side progressed in the UEFA Cup.
Leicester’s players will hold no fear as they step out into the famous hostile atmosphere in Madrid and they will know that this could be Atletico’s last at that stadium. Since the departure of Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes have turned their season around but tasted defeat for the first time at Everton on Sunday. It was a changed side with Wednesday’s match clearly in their sights, but defensive frailties showed.
Yohan Benalouane and Robert Huth struggled at Goodison Park, and that same pairing will line up in Spain with captain Wes Morgan still ruled out. Other than that, the Premier League side have a clean bill of health and will look to the likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, and Wilfred Ndidi to conjure up that now trademarked Leicester fight and spirit.
Atleti’s star names will all take to the pitch as well, and they will look to Diego Godin to keep Vardy quiet while at the other end, Griezmann and a rejuvenated Fernando Torres will certainly be keeping Kasper Schmeichel busy.
They comfortably saw off Bayer Leverkusen in the knockout round and have already beaten Bayern Munich in the group stage. Diego Simeone will make sure his side treat Leicester with the utmost respect.
The 2-1 defeat that Leicester suffered in Sevilla was an excellent result, and anything similar will feel like a victory for the away side. An away goal is vital here, and Atletico doesn’t score many so you can’t rule anything out.
I’m just not sure which team will want the ball less, but it is sure to be a fantastic Champions League night.